Ornamental Grasses

Grasses are useful in your home as well as your outdoor landscaping. They are low maintenance and their foliage contrasts well with tropicals, annuals and perennials. Heights of these magnificent plants can range from 10 inches to 10 feet. Most grasses are very hardy and provide a year around display. Grasses prefer well drained soil and do best if they are mulched before the colder winter months. A little extra mulch will insure vigorous growth in the spring. Taller grasses should be cut back to 4-6 inches early in the spring to promote new growth and a fresh...

Project of the week

This weeks featured project is a waterfall that was built by Knapp Valley Gardens a few years back for Bill & Donna Hoffhines. It offers them a beautiful view from their back deck and a sanctuary for visiting wildlife. The homeowners were very pleased with the results and commented “We love the yard and so do the birds!!!! We will always live here to enjoy the...

The Art of Dried Flowers

Kimberly Blanchard KV Landscape Designer  It’s that time of the year to start cutting flowers you would like to bring into the house for the winter. There are different stages as to when you should cut and dry flowers, some have already passed but plenty are still ready to harvest and to bring in for the memory of summer all season. Hydrangea, sunflowers, grasses and cattails are just a few of the flowers that you can dry successfully. You can also cut many different kinds of woody ornamentals for dried arrangements such as corkscrew willow, redtwig dogwood and grapevines. Anything that has good color, texture or structure will give your arrangements character. I really enjoy creating my fall and winter arrangements, it is great fun coming up with my own unique designs. There are many methods to drying flowers. I prefer the simplest way! I have found my flowers only look good for one season and then need to be tossed. Every year I have an abundance of new flowers, so why not start fresh every year. Kim’s Simple and Easy Way to Dry Flowers: Cut flowers of choice out of the garden (Hydrangea, ornamental grass, Baby’s Breath, the list is endless). Discard any damaged or diseased foliage or stems. Place flowers in bundles of 5-7 stems. Tie up with twine or rubber bands and hang upside down in a well ventilated room away from direct sunlight. It usually takes a week or two to complete the drying process. I spray my dried flowers with non-fragrant hair spray to help hold them together. I also use nontoxic spray paint...

What can I do about the mosquito super emergence?

If simply staying indoors isn’t an option, use these precautions and repellents to keep away the heavy swarms of mosquitoes lurking in your yard. Published August 12, 2011 Michael G. Kaufman, Michigan State University Extension, Department of Entomology The excessive heat may be temporarily gone from what I consider to have been a horrible summer, but other unpleasantness remains in the form of large populations of mosquitoes. It’s been a “good” year for many species because they thrive in hot weather and in habitats created by sporadic, heavy rainfall. Lots of rain in May led to large June populations. Those June populations laid eggs that made it through the July drought and hatched with heavy rains toward the end of the month. This resulted in more broods of summer floodwater mosquitoes (e.g., Aedes vexans and A. trivittatus). One of the indicators of summer floodwater populations is the appearance of a very large species (largest in Michigan) commonly called “gallinippers.” This is Psorophora ciliata and it can be alarming when it lands on your arm to attempt to feed. Adult females can be over half an inch long in body length and they have very hairy legs with yellowish bands. They are never very abundant, but you won’t forget them if one tries to bite you. On the positive side, their larvae feed upon other mosquito larvae, so they have a beneficial aspect. If warm conditions persist and heavy rainstorms occur every few weeks, large numbers of mosquitoes could be with us well into September. (Not to alarm anyone, but some areas in Michigan have seen substantial emergences of these...

Lawns and other turf recovering from stressful July

The record-breaking heat has taken a toll on many turf areas, causing crabgrass and weeds. Here are some tips in helping your turf recover and prepare for fall. Published August 12, 2011 Kevin Frank, Michigan State University Extension, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences The cooler temperatures the last week have certainly been welcome relief from the record heat and humidity of July. Many turf areas across the state including home lawns, golf courses, athletic fields and commercial properties have turf that is looking less than stellar following the heat of the last month. Earlier this year, many thought that with very cool temperatures of spring and early summer that it might be a down year for crabgrass. Well, not surprisingly, once the heat surged in July the crabgrass let it be known that it would not be denied another bountiful summer of growth and prosperity. In addition to crabgrass, the voids in turf have resulted in numerous other weeds finding homes including black medic, oxalis, dandelion, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, yellow nutsedge, chicory and Canada thistle. In addition, I’ve also been noticing that my new white sneakers have been sporting a nice, brownish-orange look after walking through areas where rust is starting to infest the turf. The 10-day forecast looks like temperatures are going to stay moderate with highs in the 70s and low 80s and, more importantly, nighttime temperatures in the 60s. These temperatures will spur turfgrass growth and recovery from the summer stress. A couple tips to help your turf recover and compete with weeds for what’s left of summer as we move into fall. If...
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